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Hi! I'm often pretty busy, but check in sometime and maybe things will look different!
I like a lot of things, here are some I'm excited about sharing...
Thanks to Gopika and Nadaka, I've been able to touch the more scientific side of vedic chanting. I've searched around for some information on the net, and here are some colated pieces.
This could be useful - how to write sanskrit using the western alphabet: the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
Here is Gopika and Nadaka's chanting page.
Here is a nice email about memorizing and reciting the vedas.
Syllables in a pada are also classified as metrically short (laghu "light") or long (guru "heavy"): a syllable is metrically short only if it contains a short vowel and is not followed by consecutive consonants in the same pada. All other syllables are long, by quality (having a long vowel or diphthong) or by position (being followed by a consonant cluster.)
Here is a long text (email) describing the accent in vedic chanting in India.
Here is a shorter and more useful text.
From the Encyclopedia Britanica:
Music » Antiquity » Vedic chant » Chant intonation
The chanting of the Rigveda and Yajurveda shows, with some exceptions, a direct correlation with the grammar of the Vedic language. As in ancient Greek, the original Vedic language was accented, with the location of the accent often having a bearing on the meaning of the word. In the development of the Vedic language to Classical Sanskrit, the original accent was replaced by an automatic stress accent, whose location was determined by the length of the word and had no bearing on its meaning. It was thus imperative that the location of the original accent be inviolate if the Vedic texts were to be preserved accurately. The original Vedic accent occurs as a three-syllable pattern: the central syllable, called ud?tta, receives the main accent; the preceding syllable, anud?tta, is a kind of preparation for the accent; and the following syllable, svarita, is a kind of return from accentuation to accentlessness. There is some difference of opinion among scholars as to the nature of the original Vedic accent; some have suggested that it was based on pitch, others on stress; and one theory proposes that it referred to the relative height of the tongue.
In the most common style of Rigvedic and Yajurvedic chanting found today, that of the Tamil Aiyar Brahmins, it is clear that the accent is differentiated in terms of pitch. This chanting is based on three tones; the ud?tta and the nonaccented syllables (called pracaya) are recited at a middle tone, the preceding anud?tta syllable at a low tone, and the following svarita syllable either at the high tone (when the syllable is short) or as a combination of middle tone and high tone. The intonation of these tones is not precise, but the lower interval is very often about a whole tone, while the upper interval tends to be slightly smaller than a whole tone but slightly larger than a semitone. In this style of chanting the duration of the tones is also relative to the length of the syllables, the short syllables generally being half the duration of the long.
The more musical chanting of the S?maveda employs five, six, or seven tones and is said to be the source of the later secular and classical music. From some of the phonetic texts that follow the Vedic literature, it is apparent that certain elements of musical theory were known in Vedic circles, and there are references to three octave registers (sth?na), each containing seven notes (yama). An auxiliary text of the S?maveda, the N?rad??ik??, correlates the Vedic tones with the accents described above, suggesting that the Samavedic tones possibly derived from the accents. The Samavedic hymns as chanted by the Tamil Aiyar Brahmins are based on a mode similar to the D mode (D-d on the white notes of the piano; i.e., the ecclesiastical Dorian mode). But the hymns seem to use three different-sized intervals, in contrast to the two sizes found in the Western church modes. They are approximately a whole tone, a semitone, and an intermediate tone. Once again, the intervals are not consistent and vary both from one chanter to another and within the framework of a single chant. The chants are entirely unaccompanied by instruments, and this may account for some of the extreme variation of intonation.
From the Oneness University
shruti: (Sanskrit) "That which is heard."
Hinduism's revealed scriptures, of supreme theological authority and spiritual value. They are timeless teachings transmitted to rishis, or seers, directly by God thousands of years ago. Shruti is thus said to be apaurusheya, "impersonal," or rather "suprahuman."
Shruti consists essentially of the Vedas and the Agamas, preserved initially through oral tradition and eventually written down in Sanskrit. Among the many sacred books of the Hindus, these two bodies of knowledge are held in the highest esteem. For countless centuries shruti has been the basis of philosophical discussion, study and commentary, and this attention has given rise to countless schools of thought. It is also the subject of deep study and meditation, to realize the wisdom of the ancients within oneself.
Most mantras are drawn from shruti, used for rites of worship, both public and domestic, as well as personal prayer and japa. It is a remarkable tribute to Hindu culture that so much of shruti was preserved for thousands of years without alteration by means of oral instruction from guru to shishya, generation after generation. In the Veda tradition this was accomplished by requiring the student to learn each verse in eleven different ways, including backwards. Traditionally shruti is not read, but chanted according to extremely precise rules of grammar, pitch, intonation and rhythm. This brings forth its greatest power. In the sacred language of shruti, word and meaning are so closely aligned that hearing these holy scriptures properly chanted is magical in its effect upon the soul of the listener.
See: Agamas, smriti, Vedas.
It's pretty useful to be able to write in english text and translate it. I'm using the ITRANS format currently with the help of an online translator for things that are small or don't need vedic svara marks. For other things I am using ltranslator2003, which only runs under windows. Since I use linux - I ran it inside a windows XP environment inside virtualbox. From the ITRANS source it produces both devanagari (unicode) and transliterated text (IAST) that can be saved in one RTF file.
I tried using the unicode devanagiri directly in this page, but it doesn't look nice. So I opened the RTF file inside open office and changed the font to the Chandas font - which looks really nice, saved it as a PDF and took a screenshot as a PNG. and use the PNG file instead.